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The Mentoring Experience

Without formal training, the road to success as a financial professional can be rocky. There’s often no roadmap, and the way is filled with unexpected potholes, wrong turns and roadblocks. To make matters worse, the journey is often started with no onramp to provide a smooth entrance. It’s no wonder entering this career can be so daunting. 

This can be a tough business to get a start in,” said Anne Buck of Schumann and Buck Financial Services. The New Braunfels, Texas, financial profesional served as a mentor at the inaugural Link to the Future (LTTF) program at the 2018 Connect National Conference in New Orleans. 

But if a young person has someone to talk with, to guide them, to provide insight before they really need it,” she said, “they’re not jumping into the industry cold. 

Buck was one of 27 seasoned financial professionals who partnered with a group of 30 college-age students. 

Throughout the conference, students shadowed their mentors, who provided inspiring stories of how they became financial professionals, tore down stereotypes and allayed career-entry anxieties. 

Buck mentored Abbas Mohammadi, a finance student at Louisiana State University, and DeAndre Geels, a Texas Tech student and son of Marc Geels, CFP® of EFS Group Wealth Management in Sioux City, Iowa, throughout the conference and networking events. 

Excitement over the networking opportunities was a common theme among the LTTF participants. 

Being able to attend the conference and network, to hear what advisors do and what the industry is like was great,” Geels said. “It allowed me to see what, as a young person, I need to do to succeed.

University of New Hampshire student Jonathan Brice agreed. He was curious about several areas of financial services. “What better way to learn about them than to talk with people who’ve already established themselves?” Brice networked as much as possible, taking advantage of their breadth of knowledge. “I just tried to soak up as much as I could,” he said. 

The son of Bill Brice, managing partner of Professional Investors Network, the younger Brice came away with a new outlook on the life of a financial professional. 

It’s more of a relationship-based career than it is just crunching numbers,” he said. “I’ve always had this picture in my head of my father building financial models and such. But, that’s not what he was doing. He was also building relationships with people, building trust.

Brice’s mentor, Gregg Fortune, CFP®, managing principal of Cedar Brook Financial Partners, reinforced the relationship aspect of financial consulting. Having Fortune explain how he handles client relationships and builds trust “provided a huge takeaway for me,” Brice said. 

Having someone talk about how to enter the industry was another strong theme for the LTTF mentees. 

The finance industry isn’t something young people usually learn about, said Brooke Smailes of the University of Nevada, who shadowed Christy Roe of Synergy Financial Advisors in Midvale, Utah. But having a mentor who talked about how she entered the profession made a big difference for Smailes. 

No one really gives you a map to follow, and there are so many options you can take,” Smailes said. “This eliminated all the fears I had about going into the industry. It gave me a place to start and an idea of how to get there.

Christy was super amazing. She gave me tips on what to do and not to do, how to get where I wanted to be,” Smailes said. 

Easing their entry into, and instilling a passion for, the profession are important aspects of mentoring and can be the most gratifying for mentors. 

Louisiana State University student Adam Karrigan was especially impressed by his mentor, Curtis Almy of Sunrise Financial, Miles City, Montana. 

His personality is so gung-ho, he’s so willing to help,” said Karrigan. “He’s been doing this for 30 years, and the way he loves his job really shows. He gave me hope for the future and showed me who I can be. Someday, I’ll be able to help someone like me.

A broad group of mentors from the Ladenburg network of subsidiaries shared their stories, professional passion and advice to a new group of LTTF students at the ELEVATE Advisory Symposium, Jan. 13-15, in Nashville, Tennessee. 


Mentoring – What’s in it For Me? 

Why should a busy financial professional take time from their business and clients to guide the development of early-year professionals, much less students who’ve yet to commit to the industry? Many mentors report they receive as much as the mentees do. 

Expand your network, develop a pipeline for your firm’s growth – You’ve probably already developed a wide range of professional connections at this stage in your career, but a mentor-mentee relationship offers benefits beyond other casual networking relationships, including a stronger bond with your mentee. 

Your mentee can also introduce you to a new, younger generation of prospects, clients and contacts. When you include next-generation professionals into your network, you attract younger people to the industry – and your firm. 

Give back to the industry – A growing number of financial professionals closer to retirement are considering the next step for their business and clients. According to Cerulli Associates, the average age of financial professionals is 51, and 38 percent expect to transition out of the business in the next 10 years. Mentoring as early as possible introduces business students to the industry and develops a passion in them for helping people succeed financially. 

The main reason I mentored was to give back to my profession,” said Anne Buck, a financial professionals with Schumann and Buck Financial Services, New Braunfels, Texas. “I feel we need to groom these young people for a future in financial services. It’s important to get the upcoming generation excited about this career.

After the conference ended, one of her mentees, Abbas Mohammadi, a finance student at Louisiana State University, reached out to Buck, who provided him the opportunity to build his resume with internship work. 

It’s been fun to work with these young people, to talk with them and see what they’re learning in college,” she said. The younger generation is beyond computer literate, and she’s interested in what tools they use in researching. “It’s been good to be exposed to that through his work,” she said. 

Make a difference in the life of a young person or professional – Working with aspiring and early-year advisors helps them improve their skills, continue their education and become better at their jobs. For many, mentoring provides deep personal satisfaction from making a far-reaching impact or difference in another person’s career.